Amidst the growing gap between rich and poor, a new Middle Class began to emerge. Standards of living greatly improved during this period. As production reached an all-time high and the price of goods fell as a result. Consumerism 💸 became the new status quo for many Americans.
The growth of corporations created a need for new jobs typically associated with the middle class, such as clerical workers. Individuals of both genders experienced greater access to employment (relatively speaking) and opportunities for education. 🚌
For most Americans (aside from the urban poor) standards of living actually rose and many enjoyed more leisure time than ever before.
Americans filled this leisure time in a variety of ways. Many middle class Americans would travel into cities to enjoy shopping in department stores or a Vaudeville show. Bicycling 🚲 and swimming 🏊♀️ became national crazes and even women (gasp! 😱) enjoyed partaking in these hobbies. Spectator sports also became big-- in fact, America’s national pastime (looking at you, baseball ⚾🌭) came about in this period.
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In 1893, America held its Columbian Exposition, otherwise known as the Chicago World Fair 🎡. From May to October, millions of tourists (Americans and foreigners alike) travelled to see the exposition, which was meant to be a showcase of American culture and achievement. The fair debuted the Ferris Wheel, Cracker Jack’s 🍿 and Frederick Jackson Turner’s Frontier Thesis. America’s first serial killer 🔪 (H.H. Holmes) also operated during the event! 😮
People also read more. The newspaper 📰 became a binding force in the urban landscape. New forms of journalism (championed by media titans Joseph Pullitzer and William Randolph Hearst) were especially sensational. Newspapers were printed in a variety of languages, such as German and Yiddish, by and for immigrant communities. 🗞️
Other journalists, known as muckrakers, used their platform to bring the nation’s problems into the national consciousness
🎥 Watch: AP US History - Period 6 Review